Page Two

Remembrance Poems

Hope

Page Three

Remembrance Poems

Facing Reality

Page Four

Remembrance Poems

Personal Loss

Page Five

Remembrance Poems

Critical

Remembrance Poems

Facing Reality

Servicemen look death in the face

Poems on this page

When you see millions of the mouthless dead

Rendezvous

Anthem for Doomed Youth

Death of a Hero

When you see millions of the mouthless dead

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Sorley
September/October, 1915

Charles Sorley was killed at the age of twenty on 13th October 1915, in the Battle of Loos.
 

Rendezvous

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air -
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath -
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger, a US citizen, was killed on the fourth day of the Battle of the Somme, 4 July 1916, at the age of 28.

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


Wilfred Owen
September - October, 1917

Wilfred Owen was killed at Ors, near the French Belgian border, on 4 November 1918, at the age of 25.

Death of a Hero

Clothes soaked with blood, and blood on his boots
As he breaths he gurgles blood
He lays in the shadow cast by a wall of stone
A million miles from home
Eyes wide with fright. His brothers by his side.
He quietly prays as he slowly dies
As blood drains from his body, color leaves his face
His blood waters the flowers in this God forsaken place
They hold him so he doesn’t die alone.
They hold him until they have to bag him and send him home.
Tears leave streaks down a dirty face
Sorrow and emptiness now takes his place
With the utmost care they zip up the big black bag
and wrap his body in an American flag.
A hero is going home.

Steve Carlsen

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The original War Poetry Website, researched and edited by David Roberts for nearly 20 years, 1999-2018 was number one in search results for "war poetry" for over 15 years. Re-written and re-designed 2019, it was launched 16 May 2019 at warpoetry.uk and replaces the original which used to be found at www.warpoetry.co.uk . Copyright 2019 David Roberts.